Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How Bad is this Ricky Clemons Problem?

From today's Daily News:
Removing the albatross

A hearty "thank you" from the Midwest. In hiring Elson Floyd, Washington State University, in my opinion, has removed an albatross from around the necks of all who care about education at the University of Missouri. His (and his wife's) involvement in the sad events surrounding Ricky Clemons (a former MU basketball player) were only the tip of the iceberg out here. His appointments to leadership positions in the smaller schools in the university system were incredibly destructive to those schools and to their communities.

One press outlet in Kansas City made the point best recently when it asked, "Don't the people at WSU believe in background checks?"

Richard Brummel, Kansas City, Mo.
What is this Ricky Clemons issue that is written about here? I decided to research it a little bit. What I found out was that Ricky Clemons was a basketball player who assaulted his girlfriend, by choking her. He was arrested. He plead guilty of a lesser charge and was given 60 days in jail. He was granted work release. While out of his detention center, Clemons was at Elson Floyd's house on the 4th of July. He crashed on an ATV and was sent to the hospital. It was discovered at that time he broke the rules of his probation and was sent back to jail from work release.

While in jail he started to have conversations with Floyd's wife (Carmento) on the telephone at the jail. He would call collect and speak with her. Elson knew of this and asked his wife to stop, but she kept taking the calls. [He would have had to have known by looking at the phone bill it was still going on.] He also had conversations with the assistant athletic directors wife (Amy Stewart).

The phone conversations were recorded and made public.
In another discussion, Carmento Floyd expressed approval of Clemons' search for a new girlfriend.

"You better. And I ain't talkin' about no Delta Delta Delta, either," she said.

"Naw, I'm talking about people in general," Clemons said.

"I'm talking about Delta Sigma Theta," she responded.

Delta Delta Delta is a traditionally white sorority, while Delta Sigma Theta is traditionally black.

President Elson Floyd is said to be furious with Athletic Director Mike Alden for revoking Clemons' scholarship. According to Floyd's wife, Carmento, the only person in the athletic department who Floyd likes is Ed Stewart,[Amy Stewart's husband, Assistant Athletic Director]...

Carmento Floyd said her husband's displeasure with Alden stemmed from Alden's decision to yank Clemons' scholarship after Clemons wrecked an all-terrain vehicle while at a gathering at the Floyds' home on July 4.

Clemons' aunt Johnnie Rawlinson, a federal judge in Nevada, also was angered that Clemons lost his scholarship. She spoke to Clemons about suing the school...
In the recordings, Amy Stewart related a story, which she attributed to her husband, about the atmosphere at the Hearnes Center at the time.

"Ed come home, every time he come home, he be like, 'Them crackers shaking. They going crazy. They don't know what to do. They shaking. They can't talk to Ricky. They're like some crackheads running around there,' " Amy Stewart said.

Judging people based on who they associate with is not fair, though it happens. To say that the wife of Floyd speaks for Floyd cannot be affirmed, but it is her view point that WSU claims it is trying to get rid of. Granted, when a minority makes such comments those comments are generally okay and not viewed in a negative light. Will Floyd's wife make such statements while at WSU? Will that influence students at WSU and/or Elson?

That is the only thing I can find that is very negative around his tenure at U of M. From all the reports I read about him leaving, those he worked with are saddened to see him go as he is a great leader and very good at getting positive things happen at the university. They feel there is a big hole they will have to fill in his absence. However, one thing that was said over and over again as well was that him leaving was a surprise. He had just received a raise aw well as a contract extension to the year 2010.

He was not even able to tell everyone because it happened so quick. Some of the higher-ups learned about his leaving via the news. So do we have a Dennis Erickson on our hands here? What would he get by coming to WSU and leaving his current job? He had only been there four years. He had a lot going for the school there. Why would he leave and travel half way across the country for a job in Pullman? The only thing I can see is the money. He is getting more than a $100,000 raise by coming here. When another school offers him up some more will he leave here? Will he fulfill his contract here? That is yet to be seen.

How will race relations be helped with him (and his wife) here? By simply hiring a black man, does that fix anything? Are we going to need to worry about our athletic program going on probation under him? Will he turn a blind eye to NCAA violations until it is too late?

There are a lot of questions, as you would always have when hiring a new person to fill a powerful position. Just like everyone else, I would like to give him all the opportunity in the world to make WSU a better place.


SVC Alumnus Blogger said...

Blogging like this is what keeps the blogosphere relevant and the education industry on their toes. Good work!

Barenjager said...

Actually, judging people by the company they keep IS fair. It is indicative of their character, comfort with behavior exhibited by their associates, like mindedness and so on. The old saying "birds of a feather" comes to mind.